As I was washing dishes and the kids were watching an episode of Phineas and Ferb, (a cartoon on the Disney Channel), I got to thinking about the evil mad scientist character, Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
Here’s a little clip, if you’re not familiar with the show:
One of the funny things about Doofenshmirtz is that his evil goals are so small. He’s always out to destroy the tri-state area. Not the world, just the tri-state area. That cracks me up every time. That and his corporate jingle, which cheerfully sings, “Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated!” Listen to it here:
I was thinking that artists are like Doofenshmirtz — most of us aim too low.
Why not aim for the whole world?
That reminded me of this poem:
Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson
it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
[Often said to have been quoted in a speech by Nelson Mandela. The source is Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992. —Peter McLaughlin] Source: here.
All that made me think about Lee Krasner, the abstract expressionist, whose biography I just read. (by Gail Levin, find it here.)
As you may know, when Lee met her future husband, Jackson Pollack, she was the better known and more successful artist. When the moved out of New York City, she gave him the barn to paint in, and she took a small bedroom. Her work then got smaller.
This story, that I learned in art history in college, inspired me to make this sculpture:
This piece is welded steel and soldered copper tiles for the roof. The fabric is a vintage linen with beading added. Shown as installed in a show at Lillstreet Art Center. Photo credit: Guy Nichols
In reading her biography, I learned something I didn’t learn in college. I didn’t know that after Jackson died, she did in fact, move out to the barn, and did start to create larger paintings.
Now, see how I fully identified the sculpture, the year made, what it’s made of and that I made it? That’s something I learned from Alyson Stanfield, author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio.
I’d read it on her blog, ArtBizBlog, though I can’t find the exact post now.
And I just read it again in her book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio.
She talks about how artists do themselves a disservice by being disorganized, by not keeping good records of their work. And she does tell us how to do it correctly.
In the Gail Levin biography of Lee Krasner, she discusses how Lee had young assistants come out in the summer and catalog all of her work, and how this has been invaluable to biographers, historians and collectors.
(but you don’t plan on becoming a famous artist, whose work is collected in museums, so you don’t have to do that?) Why not? Let’s aim high. Don’t be a Doofenshmirtz. (see how I brought that back to where we started?)
I’m following Alyson’s advice. I’ve been to the free downloads web page that goes with her book, and I’m printing and taping up her Principles of No Excuses Promotion on my office wall. (and I’ll do more than that, I’ll actually be doing these things.)
One of the first action steps I’ll be taking based on Alyson’s book is ordering new business cards, in multiples, each box with different image of an artwork on the card. And the same for notecards, to be used for keeping in touch, saying thanks, and also getting images of my work in front of people.
I’ve known about Alyson’s book for years, but I wasn’t ready for it. Various things have gotten me ready. The conference, One State Together in the Arts, was very helpful.
The ebook, Do the Work, by Steven Pressfield, was a much needed kick in the pants. (My review is here.)
If you’re not ready to get serious about marketing your work, Alyson’s book will just annoy you. If you’re ready, it may be the best one out there.